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Full text of "My Country And My People"

3O2           MY   COUNTRY    AND   MY    PEOPLE

making homage to the tomb, it is almost inevitable that one
descendant of the line should found an imperial dynasty, or at
least become a premier.

But the basis of the superstition is a pantheistic enjoyment of
Iandscape3 and gcomancy sharpens our eyes to beauty. We
then try to see in the lines of mountains and general topo-
graphy the same rhythm we see in animal forms. Everywhere
we turn, nature is alive. Its rhythmic lines sweep east and
west and converge toward a certain point. Again in the
beauties of the mountains and rivers and general topography,
we see not a beauty of static proportions but a beauty of move-
ment. A curve is appreciated less because it is a curve than
because it is a sweeping gesture, and a hyperbola is more
appreciated than a perfect circle.

The aesthetics of Chinese geomancy has therefore a very close
bearing on Chinese architecture in the broad sense of the word.
It compels discrimination of the setting and the landscape.
By the side of an ancestral grave of one of my friends there was
a little pool. The pool was regarded as propitious because it
was interpreted as a dragon's eye. And when the pool was
dried up, the family lost its fortune. As a matter of fact, the
pool, set at one side a distance below the grave, was aesthetically
an important element in the general setting of the grave,
balancing a line on the other side in a subtly beautiful manner,
It was, indeed, like the last dot put on the picture of a dragon,
representing its eye and making the whole picture alive. In
spite of the superstition and occasional bitter family feuds or
clan wars caused by it, as when someone builds a structure to
obstruct the perfect sweep and rhythm of line enjoyed from the
point of the grave or the ancestral hall, or someone digs a
ditch somewhere and therefore breaks the neck of the dragon
and dispels all hopes of the family's rise to power—in spite of
all this, I wonder very much whether geomancy has not
contributed more to the richness of our aesthetic life than it has
hindered our knowledge of geology.

For the last and most important element of Chinese archi*
tecture always remains its essential harmony with nature. In
a way, the setting is more important than the jewel. Archi-
tecture that is perfect in itself but does not fit into the landscape